Retirement, as a word, carries a different meaning for me than any of those found in a dictionary or thesaurus: to give up work, go to bed, step down, be pensioned off or be put out to pasture. These are classic, but not one works as a definition of my retirement.
There is nothing wrong with taking a classic retirement and leading a full life in post-employment. But for me, for this moment, retirement is simply the technical term for a program at Intel. It is the name of the doorway through which I pass, though it does not describe my life on the other side.
Life on the other side of the door is about having a purpose and applying that in service to a cause. I cannot retire from that. And it is yet uncertain what that cause will be, though there are some wonderful possibilities for my employment. But it will be meaningful, to a purpose, and it will add value.
When that takes shape and is realized, I will let you know what it is.
By saying these things I do not infer that Intel could not continue to provide a setting for passionate value-based work. Intel is a wonderful employer, a corporation that wants to connect the world. And the several jobs I had over my 16-½ year career had clear objectives that could be described meaningfully.
It was just time.
I have worked on 8 teams with 14 different managers. I have had the wonderful satisfactions of leading in org re-design, creating and deploying development programs, managing change and transition, supporting, leading teams, teaching and consulting.
With yet another season for Intel to sort, sift and adjust—and with many of the remaining org development practitioners (including me) now scanning the landscape for new gigs, I chose to find the next one outside this time.
This intends no negative critique of Intel’s restlessness. It is an exciting and dynamic business, morphing and refusing to rut itself, running hard in a marketplace with products that become obsolete
every 18 months. If we blinked for even half a heartbeat, a competitor lunged ahead in an attempt to dominate a market. We all needed to hang on, ride the waves, and persist in adding value wherever we worked.
It is exciting, actually. But I had a restless spirit last fall, and my eyes began to scan the horizon for a new setting in which to bring value, to apply a mission of developing thriving individuals and organizations. I had an option to retire and took it, and will use it to enter on a new passion.
Maybe I should coin the term refirement. Does that work?